Negative socio-economic Impacts of Floods

  • Loss of lives and property:

Immediate impacts of flooding include loss of human life, damage to property, destruction of crops, loss of livestock, non-functioning of infrastructure facilities and deterioration of health condition owing to waterborne diseases. Flash floods, with little or no warning time, cause more deaths than slow-rising riverine floods. In monetary terms, the extent of damages caused by floods is on the one hand dependent on the extent, depth and duration of flooding, and the velocities of flows in the flooded areas. On the other hand it is dependent on the vulnerabilities of economic activities and communities.

  • Loss of livelihoods:

As communication links and infrastructure such as power plants, roads and bridges are damaged and disrupted, economic activities come to a standstill, resulting in dislocation and the dysfunction of normal life for a period much beyond the duration of the flooding. Similarly, the direct effect on production assets, be it in agriculture or industry, can inhibit regularly activity and lead to loss of livelihoods. The spill over effects of the loss of livelihoods can be felt in business and commercial activities even in adjacent non-flooded areas

  • Decreased purchasing and production power:

Damage to infrastructure also causes long-term impacts, such as disruptions of clean water and electricity supply, transport, communication, education and health care. Loss of livelihoods, reduction in purchasing power and loss of land value in the flood plains lead to increased vulnerabilities of communities living in the area. The additional cost of rehabilitation, relocation of people and removal of property from flood-affected areas can divert the capital required for maintaining production.

  • Mass migration:

Frequent flooding, resulting in loss of livelihoods, production and other prolonged economic impacts and types of suffering can trigger mass migration or population displacement. Migration to developed urban areas contributes to the overcrowding in the cities. These migrants swell the ranks of the urban poor and end up living in marginal lands or informal settlements that are prone to floods or other risks. Selective out-migration of the workforce sometimes creates complex social problems.

  • Psychosocial effects:

The huge psycho-social effects on flood victims and their families can traumatize them for long periods of time. The loss of loved ones can generate deep impacts, especially on children. Displacement from oneís home, loss of property, loss of memorablia and livelihoods, decreased levels of security in the aftermath of floods and in temporary shelters, and disruption to business and social affairs can cause stress. The stress of overcoming these losses can be overwhelming and produce lasting psychological impacts.

  • Hindering economic growth and development:

The high cost of relief and recovery may adversely impact investment in infrastructure and other development activities in the area and in certain cases may cripple the frail economy of the region. Recurrent flooding in a region may discourage long-term investments by the government and private sector alike. Lack of livelihoods, combined with migration of skilled labour and inflation may have a negative impact on a regionís economic growth. Loss of resources can lead to high costs of goods and services, delaying its development programmes.

  • Political implications: 

Ineffective flood response and relief operations during major flood events regularly lead to public discontent or loss of trust in the authorities or the state and national governments. Lack of development in flood-prone areas may cause social inequity and even social unrest posing threat to peace and stability in the region.


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